Project to see building of nation’s longest rail tunnel
KUANTAN: The first phase of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) will see the construction of a 17.8km tunnel from Bentong, Pahang, to Gombak, Selangor, making it the longest rail tunnel in Malaysia.
The Bentong-Gombak tunnel forms part of a network of 49km of tunnels to be built in 19 locations along the total 688km length of the railway line, from the Klang Valley to Kota Baru, Kelantan.
Malaysia Rail Link (MRL) Sdn Bhd chairman Tan Sri Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah said the construction of the tunnels, which forms the first phase of the ECRL project covering 22 stations, was expected to be completed within the next four years.
He said tunnelling work at the 19 hilly locations was expected to begin early next year.
Most of the locations were in Pahang, with the remainder at border areas with Terengganu and Kelantan.
“Construction of both Phase 1 and 2 of the ECRL project will be done simultaneously, including boring the longest tunnel in Malaysia (Bentong-Gombak).
“It will utilise tunnel boring machines or drill and blast, depending on which is the most suitable, according to the situation,” he said.
“The project’s contractor, China Communications Construction Company Ltd (CCCC), possesses the technological capability supported by the workforce, including engineers and local employees, and is able to complete the RM55 billion mega project as planned.”
He pointed out that soil work project to implement the rail network was completed and acquisition work began in June, and would take 12 months from now to complete.
“We foresee the project to begin later this year,” he said at a press conference after the ECRL launch ceremony by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak here yesterday.
Irwan, who is also Treasury secretary-general, said MRL would also construct a number of bridges measuring a total of 88.8km at ECRL locations that have a high risk of floods, especially in Terengganu and Kelantan.
“This project is for the people. The 688km rail track from Port Klang, Selangor, to Tumpat, Kelantan, would lead to a multiplier effect via shortening the duration of travel, cutting down the rate of accidents, providing job opportunities and boosting income, and creating growth in terms of transit-oriented development, including business and logistics.
“We are thankful to the governments of Pahang, Terengganu, Kelantan and Selangor, which provided the best cooperation, especially in terms of land acquisition.
“It is our aim to ensure the project is completed earlier than scheduled so that the people can reap benefits as soon as possible,” he said.